What Feminism Is – and Isn’t April 2, 1916

Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, April 2, 1916
“There is nothing about feminism or in the minds of those who believe in feminism most strongly that will in any way injure monogamous marriage, the private home in the separate house, the motherhood and mother love and mother care of children, to a such degree as is good for them.
“Moreover, woman is not going to leave off being a woman. No matter how feministic she may become, she is never going to stop being feminine. Feminism, in short, is not going to hurt any of the fundamental things of life.
“As you probably know, there has been going on among the women for the last century, notably for the last half century, a movement towards something they have never had before. It is very plain nowadays, and those who cannot help but see it and fear it are indeed mortally afraid. The woman’s movement has been misquoted and misjudged and ridiculed and slandered and garbled until many excellent people without knowing anything about it are fully convinced that it is attempting to undermine the very foundations of society. They hold that the feminist is an unnatural woman. They have particularly nice term for it – a denatured woman.
“Feminism is really nothing but humanism; it is merely the right of women to be persons, instead of females, and to have interests, affairs, and businesses of their own. Women are developing their human traits and characteristics rapidly. When the historians of a new day write the history of this period, the greatest thing in it is going to be the humanizing of women.
“It is a handicap to any man to marry a woman who is behind him. She ought to be beside him, and perhaps even a little bit ahead. It will be better for the race when the woman catches up.”
Q: Would you advise working after a woman is married?
A: Ultimately the woman will be financially independent all her life, married or single. It is necessary if she is to make an independent choice of a husband instead of having to marry any who will feed her and if after marriage she is going to be a human being instead of an owned chattel.

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